ALEX Lesson Plan

Earthworm Behavior

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Stephanie Carver
System: Cullman City
School: Cullman City Board Of Education
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35754


Earthworm Behavior


This is an inquiry-based lesson that allows students to investigate different ways animals receive information through the senses, process that information, and respond to it.  Students will place earthworms in a lighted area and see if they move toward a dark environment or stay in the lighted environment.  Students will observe the behavior of the earthworms and use data from the investigation to conclude how an earthworm uses its senses to affect its behavior. 

This lesson results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
11 ) Investigate different ways animals receive information through the senses, process that information, and respond to it in different ways (e.g., skunks lifting tails and spraying an odor when threatened, dogs moving ears when reacting to sound, snakes coiling or striking when sensing vibrations).

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.4.11- Identify the sense organs and the information they receive (eyes/sight, tongue/taste, ears/hearing, skin/touch, nose/smell).

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will investigate different ways an earthworm receives information through its senses, processes that information, and responds to it in different ways.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

31 to 60 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

For each group of students:
plastic pan
2 damp paper towels
2 sheets of black construction paper
3 earthworms (in a covered cup so they do not escape)
science journals

For each student:
Earthworm Behavior lab sheet

For the class:
chart paper (optional)

Technology Resources Needed:



Teacher preparation: It is suggested that the teacher build one of the earthworm pans before the lesson so that students have a visual example.

Student background: This is an introductory lesson on how animals use their senses.  Students will need to know the 5 senses--taste, sight, touch, smell, and hearing.  Students will need to be able to use their background knowledge on animal behavior to make predictions on the behavior of the earthworms when placed in the light.  


Essential Question:  Will an earthworm move toward a light or dark environment?

Ask the students to think about animals they have observed--perhaps a pet or other outdoor animals.  Ask the students to discuss with a partner how animals use their senses to help them survive.  Write these behaviors on the board or chart paper.  Next, allow the students to predict what they think will happen when an earthworm is placed in the light.  Will it try to find a dark environment or stay in the light?  How will its senses affect its behavior?

Explain to the students that now each group will build a dark and light environment for the earthworms. They will investigate whether the earthworms will move toward a light or dark environment.

The students will:

  1. Lay the damp paper towels on the bottom of the plastic pan.  
  2. Cover half of the plastic pan with black construction paper.  Use tape to hold the construction paper in place. 
  3. Use the spoon to place 3 earthworms in the center of the pan. 
  4. Make a prediction on the lab sheet to which part of the pan the earthworms will move.
  5. Turn off the classroom lights.  Shine the flashlight directly over the uncovered side of the pan.  Use the stopwatch to time 3 minutes.  Then observe the location of the earthworms.  Record your observations.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 three more times.  Record your observations.

Facilitate a class discussion using the following questions:

  • Did your results support your predictions?  Will an earthworm move toward a light or dark environment?
  • How was the earthworm's behavior affected by its senses? Sight: Earthworms have no eyes, but they do have light receptors and can tell when they are in the dark, or in the light. Touch: Worms have a brain that connects with nerves from their skin and muscles. Their nerves can detect light.
  • Why is being able to detect light so important to a worm?  How does it help it survive?

Have students create a list in their Science journals of other animal behaviors that are affected by the use of the animal's senses.  


Assessment Strategies

Formative:  The teacher will use the Earthworm Behavior lab sheet and class discussions to informally assess student learning throughout the lesson.

Summative:  The students will create a list in their Science journals of other animal behaviors that are affected by the use of the animal's senses.  


Students may create a list of other animals that use their senses to survive. The students will use their list and research several animals that use their senses to survive.  Challenge them to find an animal for each of the five senses.  Allow them to present their findings to the class.  They may make a poster or create a slide show.  


Students needing extra assistance may be paired with a peer tutor or receive one-on-one help from the teacher during the explore activity.  Students may give oral predictions and orally describe their observations.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.